Yesterday I did a post linking to a column by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that speculated on whether the current fiscal crisis will bring down the European Union. I commented, casually, “I rather hope so.” At Foreign Policy, David Bosco took me to task, asking, “Is it OK to hope the EU fails?”:
At Power Line, John Hinderaker admits that he “rather hopes” the European Union fails (h/t Instapundit). I would dismiss this as throw-away snark, but I think it reflects a real undercurrent in conservative foreign-policy thought, and maybe American political thought on a grumpy day. But is it defensible? I can understand predicting the EU’s demise as a matter of your understanding of political or economic realities. Given Europe’s occasional pretensions to represent a more advanced stage of political evolution, I can even understand a bit of shadenfreude at Europe’s travails.
But to actually stand before the EU–which is, after all, a community of democracies struggling to sustain a political and economic union that has helped end centuries of strife on the continent–and say, “I hope you fail,” that’s a different matter. Does Hinderaker think Europeans would be better off without the EU? Does he think the world would be a better place without the EU? Or is he just being cussed?
Actually, I do think that Europeans–which is to say, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, Spaniards, Greeks, etc.–would be better off without the EU. The Common Market, a free-trade zone, was a good idea; political union is not, in my opinion.
A few years ago, I was on board an airplane waiting to take off for London. A flight attendant was talking to a man sitting across the aisle from me who was on his way home. “Where are you from?” she asked. The man answered, “Europe.” She followed up, trying to get him to name a country, but he replied stubbornly, “Europe.” Maybe he was an EU bureaucrat from Brussels; be that as it may, he certainly was in the minority. A place is not a country unless its citizens believe it is, and most Europeans consider themselves French, Dutch, German, or whatever. The European Union is largely a coup by Europe’s governing class to take power from that continent’s people and put it in the hands of its elites. Moreover, they are trying to take the continent in a more leftward direction than its citizens would prefer. So on balance, I consider the EU to be a bad thing.
It is true that the EU consists of “a community of democracies,” but the EU itself undermines those democracies and exists in large part because many of Europe’s leaders find democracy inconvenient. And I don’t think the EU deserves any significant credit for the fact that “centuries of strife” in Europe have come to an end. On the contrary, forcing Europe’s inhabitants into a currency and political union that most of them don’t want is likely to stimulate, not inhibit, strife.
So, a serious question deserves a serious answer–I do indeed hope that the European Union (by which I do not mean the free trade zone that has long existed, or any of the many forms of cooperation that have existed or can exist among European countries) fails.